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17 July 2015

FDF response to SACN carbohydrates & health report

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In response to the publication of the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) final report on carbohydrates and health, Ian Wright, Director General of the Food and Drink Federation, said:

“The most thorough scientific review of carbohydrates and health carried out in recent years should leave people in no doubt that sugars can be enjoyed safely as part of a varied and balanced diet. Sensationalist commentaries on this everyday ingredient that are not based in science should now be relegated to the past. Demonising any one ingredient in the obesity debate isn't helpful.

“The report confirms what we already know - that sugars are a contributing factor to tooth decay and if consumed in excess can lead to weight gain. SACN recommends a reduction in 'free sugars'[1] in the diet as one way of lowering energy (calorie) intake to help reduce obesity. The recommendation is also aimed at improving dental health. They make it clear that there is nothing specific about the effect of sugars when energy intake is held constant[2]. Another key recommendation is for people to eat more fibre.

“Companies' ongoing work to lower calories in foods and drinks, including reducing sugars, and to offer a range of portion sizes and low and zero calorie options, supports this ambition. Food and drink producers have been fortifying products with added fibre for years.

“To meet the stretching dietary goals that SACN recommends will mean changes to the way people eat. Published diet modelling[3] shows that people can reduce free sugars and boost fibre in the diet in a number of ways while still fitting in the foods and drink they enjoy.

“We hope SACN's key recommendations will be translated into meaningful and practical diet and lifestyle messages which are consistently used by everyone in the health debate.”

In response to Public Health England's 'Why 5%?' report, FDF's Ian Wright said:

“Although Public Health England (PHE) has today highlighted SACN's advice for people to minimise consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, the recommendations in its report are more far-reaching than this.

“Equally, while PHE's recent activity has been squarely focussed on reducing the calories people get from sugars, we would also like to see SACN's fibre recommendations taken seriously. Government, industry and the health community need to collaborate on a strategy to increase fibre intakes. For their part, companies have been fortifying products with added fibre for years.

“UK food and drink businesses remain committed to helping our customers achieve better, more balanced diets. We will continue to engage with Government and other partners to be part of the solution.”

Note to Editors:

  1. 'Free sugars' are sugars that have been added by a food manufacturer, cook or consumer to a food and include those sugars naturally found in fruit juice, honey and syrups. They do not include sugars found naturally in milk and milk products nor in fruit and vegetables.
  2. SACN suggests that 'lowering free sugars intakes provides on approach to lowering the average total dietary energy intake of population. SACN also acknowledge that there is nothing specific about the effect of sugars when energy intake is held constant, apart from where dental caries are concerned'. PHE 'Why 5%' document 17 July 2015 Page 21
  3. The British Nutrition Foundation dietary modelling in PHE's 'Why 5%?' report 17 July 2015
  4. The 'Making Sense of Sugar' website was developed by AB Sugar to help inform and educate people about sugar and the role it can play in a healthy, balanced diet.

More Information

For more information, please contact the FDF press office on 020 7420 7140.

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